We have the intelligence of a city in the open air. Look closely and you’ll feel it. International artists keep studios on back roads, and one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world lives in a maze of an old mill. Contemporary art meets the past here, in fields from digital imaging to outdoor sculpture in the meadow grass.

We have museums with global followings. Sol LeWitt’s vivid color brightens the brick walls at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Impressionists gather at the Clark Art Institute, and visitors sit the reflecting pool. Illustrators surround Norman Rockwell’s studio.

Artists create new work, and conservitors restore work centuries old. A painter and printmaker from Botswana shows wall-sized canvases in a college museum, basking deep in afternoon sunlight.

Art Museums in the Berkshires

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Mass MoCA / Photo by Kaelan Burkett / Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA is now the largest contemporary art museum in the country, and one of the largest on the planet. Artists from across the U.S. and the world have come to show their work in a former mill North Adams along the Hoosic River.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Clark Art Institute

Renoir rubs elbows with Rodin, and the reflecting pool glows between northeast granite and classical marble. The Clark Art Institute holds a collection of Impressionists and more on a campus re-imagined by Tadao Ando.

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Photo by Pete Wise

The Foundry

The Foundry in West Stockbridge is a new center for performing and visual arts, with a flexible gallery space and a black box theater for staged readings and open mics.

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Bennington Museum

Bennington Museum

The Bennington Museum holds the largest collection of Grandma Moses’ paintings in the world — and shows them a few feet from the abstract Color Field artists who gravitated to Bennington College in the 1960s. And the museum argues they have more in common than you think.

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Berkshire Botanical Garden / Photo by Kate Abbott

Berkshire Botanical Garden

In a quiet corner of Stockbridge, the Berkshire Botanical Garden has cared for 20 acres of land since 1934. The gardens open to visitors from May to early October, with art exhibits, talks and events, classes and workshops year-round.

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Paul Rocheleau / Chesterwood

Chesterwood

In a studio with tall windows letting in the north light, Daniel Chester French created the figure of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Today contemporary sculpture lines the paths and gardens in the summer and fall.

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Field Farm / Photo by Kate Abbott

Field Farm

Nature and Modern art mingle at Field Farm in Williamstown. The Trustees of Reservations maintains the outoor sculpture garden and trails— open to the public from sunrise to sunset all year — and runs the house as a Bed and Breakfast, and they will open the Folly for art tours occasionally through the summer and fall.

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The Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio

Frelinghuysen Morris

George L.K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen collected Modernists when the artists were living and barely known. New York artists themselves, they took an early lead in the Modernist movement in America. This art deco house in Lenox was their summer home and studio, and it preserves their collection and their artwork.

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Hilltown6 ceramics

Nine local potters in the hills and back roads on the eastern rim of the Berkshires have gathered together into a team earning national recognition — on the last weekend in July, they open their studios and kilns to the public for the annual Hilltown6 Pottery Tour.

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Image courtesy of IS183

IS183 Art School

In an old schoolhouse in Stockbridge, IS183 has been teaching hands-on art since 1991. Today the art school also holds classes at schools and museums and downtown gathering places across the county.

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Nikki Giovanni / MCLA

MCLA

National and international figures come to visit the students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, ranked in the top 10 public colleges in U.S. News and World Report and appears in U.S. News’ list of Top National Liberal Arts colleges.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Norad Mill

Moresi & Associates has drawn more than 40 local businesses to the renovated Norad Mill — artists and artisans, coffee and local wines, vintage records, yarn shops and even rocks and minerals.

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Paradise City Arts Festival

Paradise City

Three County Fairground in Northampton, just east of the Berkshires, turns on like a lighted stage for artists from around New England, and some from around the country, at the Paradise City Arts Festival.

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Sarah Kenyon / Courtesy of The Mount

The Mount

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, wrote many of her best-known novels in this house, in the 10 years she lived in Lenox — from The House of Mirth to Ethan Frome. Her house is now a museum, a center of writing, music and performance, landscape and gardens, dedicated to keeping her spirit alive.

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Image courtesy of Williams College

WCMA

The Williams College Museum of Art is a college museum, a teaching museum showing artists around the world and across centuries, from paintings by Edward Hopper and Meleko Mokgosi to contemporary photography, to 9th-century BC Assyrian stone reliefs from Nineveh.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Williams College

Williams College is named the top liberal arts college in the country, out in the Berkshire hills with an art museum, theater and music, talks and trails — and a spirit of making its own fun.

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